End Game was wearied to hear of the Department of Health’s latest publicity wheeze, which this time involved coming up with a new number to do with health tourism (£2bn, except really it’s £300m max) and acting all tough and resolute about making that number smaller in the future.
We were puzzled, since health tourism is undoubtedly such a financial and operational priority for the service, why NHS England had nothing to say about it.
Anyway just as we had stopped worrying our pretty little head about that, we were we alerted to the full horrifying truth of health tourism in the NHS in 2013.
For up sprang @SWAgainstTravel – a Twitter campaign representing the people of south Worcestershire against plans to reorganise acute services in their county, including establishing a single emergency department at the Worcestershire Royal Hospital and moving some treatments to other sites.
“Worried about travelling to Redditch for Hospital Services,” proclaims its Twitter profile. “We have our own brilliant WRH lets not fill it with people from Redditch.”
Sample tweet: “Why do we have to have our hospital cluttered up with people from the North of Worcestershire? #NHS”
Later, they asked: “if plans go ahead, can the people of Redditch filling our hospital be classed as health tourism?”
End Game is alarmed that the DH has released no data on the cost to the NHS of the people of Redditch, and appears to have no policy for protecting the rest of the country from sharing their services with them.